Ah what the hell! Freeport has been in the news of late and made into the Blogsphere a few times, invariably as the BBM (Big Bad Multinational)..Yawn. The trouble with those of the "Dark" Green colour is they tend to be little more than socialists covered with a green mould with a deep hate of all business and development.
Ok a few points before I start.
One.. Development is good!! It gives most of us a lifestyle our ancestors could not even imagine; those who are left out of the cycle are victims of poor government not development per se
Two.. I consider myself a bit of green although of a light green colour, I firmly believe with wealth creation comes time which grants us the ability to think of others instead of day to day survival
Three.. I am not about to get into the politics of Papua. Although very serious (people are dying) as far as I am concerned one issue is economic the other political/national.
There is a huge outcry at the moment to shut down the “EVIL” Freeport. Ok, let’s go along with the shutdown plan, let’s shut down Freeport what are the consequences:
For a start that’s US 1.1 billion dollars the Indonesian Government won't get this year assuming things stay the same as last. Of course, Freeport didn't do too bad either scoring about $350 Million for the years work. Mind you if you read the claptrap around at the moment you would swear the ratio was the other way around.
Obviously the share price will collapse along with the 9.36% of the shares held by the Government.
Freeport employment for just under 20,000 employees not including indirect suppliers and contractors, along with the taxes paid into the Indonesian Coffers will disappear.
Now to pose a few questions:
Would the Indonesian government continue to maintain the Hospital and University once the Freeport financial support disappears?
Closure of the mine, would have what effect on the other international investments in Indonesia?
Can Indonesia really afford to close this mine?
Perhaps some people think, Indonesia should go back to pre-investment days (was there ever such a time?)
Freeport or more correctly Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold have been rightly accused of environmental damage which is no great surprise it’s a mine! Just how bad the environmental damage as compared to benefits to Indonesia as whole is subject of much debate. What to do about it in rational manner is the question that must be answered not irrational calls to close the mine.
There is no doubt that Freeport has become a symbol of the tension between the Government in Jakarta and Papuan people seeking a better deal. It has been alleged current "crisis" has the usual "mysterious figures" in the background. How true?
The fact that the local Papuans seem to have got a raw deal with them carrying the cost of the environmental damage with little of no benefit is not disputed. However, that the local people are getting a "raw deal" is the case throughout the provinces with any number of large income producing projects. The question that must be answered is should the company be held responsible for the policies and laws of the Government of the day or ?
A far deeper issue is the whole policy of equitable sharing of resources in an open transparent manner devoid of corruption is the only way to avoid continuing violence. Surely this is Government responsibility not a company one.
Should Freeport (for instance) start pouring money into the local community via various officials when does a gift become a bribe? Should not the central Government be responsible for the distribution of revenue in a fair and equitable manner (not saying it happens that way, but that it should)?
Ok that’s it for now, I fully expect to get ravaged by Greens seeing red (funny how they change colour so quick). I just think Freeport is an easy target without looking beyond the surface at what really needs to be done and don't forget what happens at Freeport is repeated in any number of provinces every day, so why only freeport at the moment?.
In summary, my view:
Mining along with other development is a necessary evil.
Most regions (including Papua) do not receive a fair and equitable share of the country's wealth leading to a very volatile environment, mining companies are easy but boring targets but they don’t make the regulations
Without the creation of wealth, the environment will always be under threat (hard to care about the survival of the blue bird of happiness when you are starving).
It is the Governments role to regulate companies not companies role to pick up after Governments.